Liverpool Masonic Hall’s Corinthian Suite was filled with anticipation for the annual installation ceremony of Lodge of Israel No 1502. The lodge was founded on 3 June 1874 and consecrated on the 12 October 1874 as a kosher lodge, which means it observes Jewish dietary requirements, but has welcomed non-Jewish members, of which there has always been many, right from the start.
At the end of each meeting, and prior to the festive board, the lodge enjoys an excellent kiddish (reception) before the festive board. During some ceremonies and at the festive board some of the prayers are said in Hebrew and some of the brethren may wear a head covering and it is traditional to sing a short Hebrew verse after the return of thanks.
One of the proudest possessions of the lodge is the banner which is based on the design of that of Lodge of Israel No 205 of London, founded in 1793. The background is of a pale blue colour and it is surmounted by a figurative representation of the Holy Name in the form of wings beneath which is a bejewelled crown, with a ribbon artefact above, bearing the words “Crown of the Torah” (Holy Law) in Hebrew. Central to the design is a shield bearing the name of the lodge in Hebrew (Yisroel) above the lodge number, 1502. This shield is supported on the right by the figure of Moses dressed humbly in white and red, holding his staff in his left hand, and on the left, by Aaron, resplendent in a white linen vestment, ephod, girdle and jewelled breast-plate of the High Priest as prescribed in the commandment set out in Exodus chapter 28, and with the chains of his censer suspended from his right hand. Beneath their feet is a scroll bearing the name of the lodge in English and at the foot of the banner are the two tablets of the law superimposed on priestly trumpets.
This year’s installation saw the lodge opened in due form by the WM Paul Rattigan, ably assisted by his wardens Ian Thompson and Ian Niven. With the opening business duly completed the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp was admitted to announce that the principal guest for the evening, Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was outside with an accompanying entourage and demanded admission.
The processional entrance was of great splendour not only due to the number of grand officers in attendance but by the addition of the acting Provincial grand officers leading the way. The gavel of the lodge was proffered to Tony Harrison by the WM which was accepted for a short period, in which Tony expressed his pleasure on attending. The gavel was then returned to Paul.
Following on from the salutations, Paul Rattigan requested that PrSGW David Asbridge occupy the senior warden chair, PrJGW Peter Allen that of junior warden, with Paul Hudson to take up position as inner guard for the purpose of installation. Master elect Barry Elman was then presented to Paul by Lennie Rubin and lodge DC Steve Kayne, and after giving his assent Barry was brought forward to recite his obligation at the pedestal.
Paul Rattigan did an excellent job at installing Barry into the chair of King Solomon in a ceremony that was undertaken with great sincerity and precision. Drawing favourable comments from all who witnessed their work were James McGowan, Christopher Mullen and John Sephton, the junior brethren who delivered the working tools of each degree, each having their own distinctive style and who performed their duties impeccably.
Barry then appointed and invested his officers for the ensuing year, with Ian Niven as senior warden and Ray Sephton as junior warden. The address to Ian was given by PrGSW David Asbridge that to Ray by PrGJW Peter Allen, while group secretary Bob Paterson delivered the address to the incoming secretary Ian Thompson in similar style.
It was at this juncture that Barry halted the investiture for a short time for the purpose of expressing the thanks of all in lodge of Israel to two outgoing officers, former treasurer Stan Blake, and secretary David Waddington. Both have given long and sterling service to their respective position within the lodge for very many years and Barry wished this to be recorded in the minutes.
With such importance now placed on the office of charity steward it has been deemed that this address should be read to all who take this post. Lodge of Israel decided their representative should be none other than Paul Rattigan, and group vice chairman Dave Johnson stepped forward, not only to read the address to Paul, but present him with a copy also. David Waddington was not without office for too long as he was re-invested next as lodge mentor. The new deacons, senior Stuart McQueen and junior Chris Mullen were duly invested and had the honour of receiving their address from Provincial Senior Grand Deacon Keith Williams. The address to inner guard John Sephton was delivered in exemplary fashion by Paul Hudson, while that to the lodge stewards was delivered by Rob Fitzsimmons.
Paul Rattigan next gave the address to the master while the address to both wardens was given in an equally impressive and accomplished manner by Peter Allen. This left Tony Harrison with a hard act to follow as he was called upon to give the address to the brethren of the lodge, but he easily ensured the high standards set by those on the floor before him were equalled.
At the completion of the proceedings, Tony had great pleasure in congratulating and complimenting each of the participants and expressed the wish that the lodge members would have a wonderful year under the guidance of their new master and that Barry would be fortunate in having good health to fully enjoy and fulfil his year in office. Tony further mentioned that it had been a first-class ceremony which had been a delight to watch, and conducted with great dignity, with particular congratulations to the three young brethren who presented and explained the working tools of each degree. This was met with great acclamation
As Tony went to resume his seat this was the moment Barry had been waiting for, his first duty of the evening following his installation. The presentation to Tony Harrison of the lodge charitable giving which this year consisted of a cheque in favour of the West Lancashire 2021 Festival for £1502, equating with the number of the lodge. This was graciously accepted.
Following the ceremony, the adjacent dining suite was the setting for an excellent kiddish and accompanied by the traditional toast to the new master, followed by an equally outstanding festive board.